January 30, 2008

Cakes by Darcy

The front door of Cakes by Darcy. We stopped by because of my niece, Caroline's upcoming 6th birthday. She wanted cookies to take to school, and her order was tough: football cookies for the boys and tiara cookies for the girls. Here's hoping none of the little boys prefer tiaras, or all kindergarten hell will break loose!

Everything in Darcy's is beautiful and perfectly decorated...almost too perfect. I tried to throw them off by buying a bag of non-sweet cheese straws. Those were also perfect. Get a gander at these cakes:

Makes me want to throw a big party just so I can order one. My family members living in Atlanta are frequent customers of Cakes by Darcy, and loooove their confections. Who wouldn't? If they taste half as good as they look, they have to be among the best.

The football cookies look good, too.

Darcy's might be smaller and have less selection than the last bakery I blogged about, Oakmont Bakery in Pittsburgh-- but the quality and taste of the products are just as high. If you are ever in Roswell, Georgia, and need sweets, stop in to see Darcy. She might sell you a football cookie even if you are a girl...and the eggs.

January 28, 2008

The Swallow at the Hollow- Roswell, Georgia

On weekends, The Swallow at the Hollow features country singers such as Jo Dee Messina, Big and Rich and Tricia Yearwood, and (all week long) has some of the best barbecue in the Atlanta area. The menu items sound so appetizing that it's hard to choose, especially when you are as hungry as we were.

Swallow's fried green tomatoes are the best I have ever had. The difference is the coating, which was thin and peppery. The green tomato was the perfect un-ripeness. What makes a fried green tomato the best, you might ask? For me it is when the tomato is the star of the show, and is lightly spiced by the coating as opposed to biting through a thick layer of fried batter that takes away from the taste of the vegetable...or fruit. They came with a ranch dipping sauce. I would have them again and again.

Smoked sausage plate- with the cucumber and tomato and the mac and cheese sides. These biscuits are addictive. The mac and cheese was creamy and cheesy- just what you would expect and the portion was just enough. The sausage is homemade and if you like smoked sausage, you will love it. There were several sauces on the table- each one was better than the last.

Full rack of baby backs with fries and Texas toast. I wasn't sure that I would ever be able to eat ribs again after the Rib Fest, but somehow I managed to choke some of these down. They were very, very good- a little smoky and very tender and flavorful. They were the kind of ribs I like, the ones you can sink your teeth into. Tender yet not falling off the bone. Our party ordered another entree not pictured here--the pulled pork BBQ sandwich- which was also a huge hit. I think that's what I'll order the next time I go. There is one lone dessert on the menu...

...banana chocolate chip pudding. Order one and share, this is rich, chilled, chocolatey- mmmmmm it's hard to describe. Try it.

This restaurant is rustic and comfortable and last Friday night was full of families with children, adults on dates and a few stragglers sitting at the bar. The waitstaff is friendly and helpful and once in awhile a cook will come by to ask how the food tastes. Swallow also now has the special distinction of being the first restaurant my nephew, Charles, has been in. He's too young to have solid food, but I look forward to many more trips to Atlanta and to The Swallow in the Hollow with him in years to come...and the eggs.

Swallow at the Hollow in Roswell

January 24, 2008

Atlanta, GA

I'm taking a quickie weekend trip to Atlanta to play with my niece, Caroline (pictured here, excitedly waiting for the tooth fairy), and to meet my new nephew, Charles, for the first time! I'll be back at it next week so enjoy your weekend everyone...and the eggs.

January 22, 2008

Old Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake

I just read Ruth Reichl's Tender at the Bone in two evenings-- I couldn't put it down. She writes in such a way to leave you hanging on every word, and perfectly illustrates the tastes and textures of food the way she discovered and tasted it at the time. I wish I had read the book ten years ago-- I'm a late bloomer. The book includes recipes, most of which you will see here in months to come. Reichl reminded me to slow down, not to take the time to make something unless I can give the ingredients the respect they deserve. This being a 3-day weekend has enabled me the luxury of time to find and execute such a recipe. Thank you, Colleen and Melissa (for the Barnes & Noble gift certificate)-and thank you, Ms. Reichl.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake (from Cook's Illustrated)


12 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
1/2 cup hot water
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9 inch round by 2 inch high cake pans with softened butter; dust pans with flour and knock off excess.

Combine chocolate, cocoa powder and hot water in medium (heatproof) bowl and set over saucepan containing 1 inch of simmering water. Stir with spatula until chocolate is melted- about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup sugar to chocolate mixture and stir until thick and glossy, about 2 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool.

Whisk flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Combine buttermilk and vanilla in small bowl. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk eggs and egg yolks on medium-low speed until combined, about 10 seconds. Add remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar, increase speed to high, and whisk until fluffy and lightened in color, 2 to 3 minutes. Replace whisk with paddle attachment. Add cooled chocolate mixture to egg/sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated, 30 to 45 seconds, pausing to scrape down sides of bowl with spatula. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing 10 seconds after each addition. Add about 1/3 of flour mixture followed by half of buttermilk mixture, mixing until incorporated after each addition (about 15 seconds). Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture (batter may appear separated). Scrape down sides of bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium-low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with spatula to incorporate any remaining flour. Divide batter between prepared cake pans; smooth batter to edges of pan with spatula.

Bake cakes until toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes (mine took closer to 40 minutes). Cool cakes in pans for 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack. Cool cakes to room temperature before frosting, 1 hour.


16 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (do not substitute choc. chips)8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream (cold)

Melt chocolate in heatproof bowl over saucepan containing 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat until melted. Increase heat to medium; add sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and salt and stir with heatproof rubber spatula until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Add melted chocolate, butter mixture and cream to bowl of standing mixer and stir to combine.

Place mixer bowl over ice bath and stir constantly with spatula until frosting is thick and just beginning to harden against sides of bowl- a little less than 5 minutes. Place bowl on standing mixer with paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. stir with rubber spatula until completely smooth.

Place one cake layer on serving platter.

Spread 1 1/2 cups frosting evenly across top of cake with spatula.

Place second cake layer on top, then spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake. Serve!!! Refrigerate leftover cake, but before you serve, remove from fridge and let it warm up a bit.

This was, as Cook's Illustrated promised, the true taste of the chocolate layer cake you might remember from your childhood- rich chocolate taste and fluffy, luxuriously chocolate frosting. My mother in law Marilyn helped me by reading the instructions aloud and repeatedly (thank you!) as I was elbow-deep in ingredients trying to concentrate and things would never have gone as smoothly without her. This isn't an easy task, cake from scratch is not easy (as Marilyn reminded me). She would know, she is a lifelong baker. I learned more from an afternoon baking with her than I ever would reading a cookbook. I took my time and tried my best to learn the reasons behind each instruction in the recipe, remembering Reichl's care and respect for her own recipes and ingredients.

We added one ingredient that wasn't in the recipe, making this cake more than just a sinful indulgence. Our careful measuring, repeated attempts at the perfect ice bath for the frosting and patience as baking the cake batter took longer than expected were all as much a part of the recipe as the chocolate was today- all adding up to our secret ingedient, love...and the eggs.

January 21, 2008

Sesame Chicken Lo Mein!

I spent a few days thinking about a chicken dish to make for this post- we don't eat much chicken, but I see no reason not to start. Chicken is a lean protein and it's versatile. This recipe is a combination of a recipes from the Betty Crocker Cookbook and Recipezaar. It combines the zingy bite of teriyaki garlic chicken and the smoothness of noodles marinated in sesame oil, soy sauce and a little sugar.


1 lb. lo mein noodles OR the thinnest pasta you can find
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup fine granulated sugar
5 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sesame seeds


1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon fresh ginger- chopped very finely
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
olive oil for sauteeing

Do this to marinate the chicken a few hours before you want to eat: Combine the soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, garlic, brown sugar and ginger in a bowl, stirred until sugar has dissolved. Slice chicken into small bite-sized pieces. Add chicken to marinade and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. If you like spicy, add some shakes of hot chili oil and stir.

Cook the noodles according to the directions on the package. Drain and rinse. In a container with a tight-fitting lid, add soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar. Shake until well blended and the sugar has dissolved. Pour over noodles, tossing to coat well. Toss and continue to coat while adding scallions and sesame seeds. Add hot pepper flakes to tasted (if desired). Cover and set aside.

Drain chicken well. Heat olive oil over medium high heat in the largest skillet you have- you want it to cook quickly, not gather liquid and steam. If it takes more than one batch, that's fine.

Add chicken to skillet and saute for 5 minutes or so, until it is just cooked through. Brown on the outside but don't let it dry out! Remove to bowl- let it sit for 5 minutes. If you do this in batches, just add the second batch to the same bowl and wait 5 more minutes. Fold the cooked chicken into the noodle mixture and serve.

I served this in bowls with chopsticks, sat back, and watched it disappear. My family loved this, and I will most definitely make it again. This dish is so versatile! You can make it a vegetarian dish by leaving the chicken out and adding al dente vegetables-- anything that won't add a much moisture to the noodles at the end. If you spice it up with the chili oil and hot red pepper flakes, julienned carrots might be just the thing to add. It would be good with beef, too. It would be good cold. Anything goes- like many of the recipes I try, it can be tailored to suit your family's taste. I hope you love it as much as we did...and the eggs.

January 18, 2008

Jack's Italian Meatloaf

While I am on the subject of comfort food, let's talk about one of the traditional, all-time American favorites: meatloaf. I did some research and found this discussion on the origin of meatloaf. My father-in-law makes one of the best. It is never dry. It tastes just like a meatball, hence the "Italian" designation- in fact, he says you can use the same recipe to make meatballs. He made it last night since TLMM, who refuses to eat ground beef except in the form of actual meatballs or in cabbage rolls (go figure!), is out of town working on a trial.

Two pounds lean ground beef or ground sirloin (a combo of ground pork, beef and veal would also work in this recipe)
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon salt
dash black pepper
dash garlic powder
dash onion powder
One 15-ounce can tomato sauce

Mix ingredients thoroughly- except for tomato sauce. Form into loaf and put in pyrex loaf pan or metal bread pan. Spray pan with Pam first. Score top of loaf with knife and pour tomato sauce over loaf. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 2 hours.

...meatloaf! It's moist as can be, and the sauce tastes like the sauce that cabbage rolls make- mmm-mmm! I sauteed some onion and yellow squash, Jack baked some Idaho potatoes and dinner was served.

A cozy, homestyle meal. You can jazz this basic recipe up any way you like- add chopped onion, some hot red pepper flakes--it's up to you. My sister uses cornflake crumbs instead of bread crumbs, adds hot sauce and cooks it uncovered. Jack's recipe was delicious- thank you, Jack, for dinner and thank you, Marilyn, for giving him the idea. It's so nice to come home to dinner in the oven, you're spoiling me and I like it...and the eggs.

January 17, 2008

Scalloped Potatoes

Is there really anything much more comforting than a great big dish full of piping hot, creamy scalloped potatoes? When the mercury in South Florida drops below 75 degrees, we wear sweatshirts, build fires in the fire pit and drink hot cocoa- when else would we have the chance? We have had a night or two this winter below 40, and on one of those nights we enjoyed this simple yet marvelous dish.

Peel 7 medium sized Idaho potatoes and slice them a little less than 1/4" thick. Butter an 8x11 casserole dish. Make a layer of potatoes in the dish with a few pats of butter scattered on top, 1 tablespoon of flour tossed around and some salt and pepper. We made three layers, and used 1 stick of butter total. After the last layer, pour milk over the whole thing until it comes three quarters up the sides of the potatoes. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Uncover for another half an hour, or until the potatoes are brown and bubbly on top. Serve hot!

Speaking of comfort food, if you read Jonathan's post, here, at People + Food, you'll see that some people's idea of comfort food is a comfort drink. Our ideas of which tastes and smells take us home in our mind is as varied as we are, which I find endlessly fascinating. Which probably led to this blog...and People + Food...and the eggs.

January 15, 2008

Jack's Birthday (Observed)

Another special occasion saved up for Joe's Stone Crabs!

Large claws. Mmmmm.

The creamed spinach. The waitress told us nutmeg is the secret ingredient, however, the nutmeg in this dish is not subtle. It was the only disappointment of the evening.

Crab cakes. Delicious- one is enough, but they give you two!

We finally celebrated Jack's birthday, and we we did so in style. We purchased a 3-hour limo ride at a charity auction in December, and this was the perfect opportunity to use it.

TLMM can barely contain her enthusiasm as we cross the McArthur Causeway.

When Joe's Stone Crabs is mentioned, you will often hear that they do not take reservations, and it takes hours to be seated. This is true unless you strategically minimize your waiting time by arriving at 3:30 PM on a Sunday and putting your name on the list. You will be seated at 4:00. This will work every time. Your other alternative is to wait and enjoy drinks at the bar, not a bad option either, but we were a hungry bunch.

On our waitress' suggestion (she has worked at Joe's for 13 years), we ordered one salad which she divided and served for us. She also told us that in addition to the mustard sauce which accompanies the stone crab claws, melted butter is available upon request.

The Eat at Joe's cookbook was on sale for $7, reduced from the pre-holiday price of $20. The book reads like a cross between a Miami Beach history book and a cookbook- it's full of fascinating historical information from 1913 (when Joseph Weiss first came to Miami from new York) forward.

We had a good ol' time. Jack's birthday dinner was worth the wait, and we came away with a cookbook which will enable us to enjoy a little bit of Joe's at home...and the eggs.